ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A showdown over the Mexican gray wolf left the federal government vowing Tuesday to move ahead with plans to recover the endangered species despite the refusal of state wildlife officials to issue permits allowing for the release of wolves in New Mexico.
The New Mexico Game Commission denied an appeal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during a packed meeting in Albuquerque.
The move prompted a chorus of boos from the dozens of people in the audience who were holding signs that read "More wolves, less politics." No public comment on the matter was allowed.
Officials with the Fish and Wildlife Service said they were disappointed with the outcome given that delaying releases could compromise the genetics of the wild population in New Mexico and Arizona.
Sherry Barrett, coordinator of the Mexican wolf recovery program, did not address accusations that politics played a role in the state's decision but said her agency has a duty under federal law to help the species.
"Our goal is recovery," she said after the meeting. "We still need to move forward with releases of wolves to address the genetic health of the population."